Nestle to cut almost 300 UK jobs, move some production to Poland

The Nestle logo is pictured on the company headquarters building in Vevey, Switzerland February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

LONDON (Reuters) - Nestle NESN.S plans to cut almost 300 jobs in Britain as it simplifies its operations and moves production of Blue Riband biscuits to Poland, becoming the latest food and drink maker to reduce its UK operations as the country prepares to leave the European Union.

Swiss-based Nestle said on Tuesday that the 298 proposed cuts were being made at four sites in northern England and Scotland, where it wants to standardise its shift patterns.

The Fawdon site in northeast England will also be hit by the transfer of production of its Blue Riband biscuits to Poland.

It said the cuts, which represent less than 4 percent of its UK workforce, were aimed at ensuring its operations “operate more efficiently and remain competitive in a rapidly changing external environment”. The company did not mention Brexit.

The majority of the cuts will take place in 2017 and 2018 at Fawdon and York and will be achieved through voluntary redundancies, said Nestle, which currently employs more than 8,000 people across Britain.

“This is yet another kick in the teeth for the northeast economy,” said Valerie Scott of the GMB union’s northern region.

The news from the maker of Gerber baby food and Nespresso coffee comes a week after Scotch maker Diageo DGE.L said it was cutting about 100 jobs in Scotland.

PepsiCo PEP.N said in March it was closing a Walkers crisps factory in northern England, putting nearly 400 jobs at risk.

Like Nestle’s KitKat, Blue Riband is made from chocolate-covered wafers. The product was launched in 1936.

Additional reporting by John Revill in Zurich; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely